Managing diabetes in children – 10 common queries answered – Ideally, a child should visit the doctor once a month. If it’s not possible every month, at least once every 2-3 months is mandatory.

Being a parent is very tough. It can be like watching little pieces of your heart run along. It can be complicated even further when your little one suffers from a condition like diabetes. You want them to have a normal life but you also want them to be safe. And childhood diabetes is more common than you think. According to juvenilediabetesindia.orgIndia has over one million juvenile diabetics and the ailment claims 12,000 lives each year and there’s no way to figure out how many children die undiagnosed each year. Dr Shalini Jaggi, a senior consultant, diabetology at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi answers 10 common queries every parent has about managing diabetic children:

Q1: What type of diabetes can children suffer from?

Children and teenagers usually suffer from Type 1 diabetes but due to increasing childhood obesity combined with sedentary lifestyle Type 2 diabetes has also started affecting them.

Q2: Why do children suffer from diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin triggering an auto-immune reaction in the body. This leads to complete cessation of insulin production in the body. Type 2 diabetes on the other hand occurs when the body even though it’s producing insulin it can’t use it properly because of insulin resistance. This resistance primarily happens because of obesity wherein fat cells do not allow the insulin to act properly.

Q3: How is it diagnosed? What signs should parents look out for?

If parents notice excessive urine production, appetite and weight loss, increased thirst or the child getting tired easily, he/she should be examined for diabetes. It is diagnosed by looking for high blood sugar levels and with urine tests.

Q4: How often should a child with diabetes visit a doctor?

Ideally, a child should visit the doctor once a month. If it’s not possible every month, at least once every 2-3 months is mandatory. However, in case of any ailment or injury, the child should be taken to the doctor immediately.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.

Q5:Are the medications the same for adults and children?

Yes, most of the medications are same. However, there are a few drugs that should not be given to children and the consulting diabetologist’s instructions should be followed properly.

Q6: What are the first things parents need to do for a diabetic child?

Parents should chalk out a more routine and disciplined lifestyle for their child. Blood sugar levels should be measured at least 2-3 times a day. Maintaining good diet habits is very essential and in Type 1 patients, injecting insulin at proper times must be taken care of.

Q7: Can a child suffering from diabetes live a normal life, for example will they be able to participate in physical activities?

Diabetes should not restrain a child from playing any sport. Pace legend Wasim Akram is a living example of how one can be a successful player even after suffering from diabetes. It’s just that there needs be better co-ordination in the diet-exercise-play regime.

Q8: What precautions should parents take in case their diabetic child gets hurt while playing?

The wound should be washed with water immediately, then Betadine or any other antiseptic cream should be applied at the site of the wound. If a tetanus injection is required, it should be given immediately. In case the wound is severe, please visit his/her doctor.

Q9:What about drinking fruit juices or colas?

Juices and colas should be avoided as they contain refined sugar which can increase the blood sugar level in the child’s body. Instead, whole fruits should be eaten as they contain fibre which helps in lowering the glycaemic load.

Q10: What can a parent do to satisfy the sweet cravings of a diabetic child?

Lot of sugar-free food items such as jams, cookies, chocolates are available in the market which can be given to the child to satisfy his/her sweet cravings. However, it should be kept in mind that these should not be taken in excess.

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